Benjamin F DeGood & Mary Martha Nickell DeGood family Taken at Humansville, Missouri 1891aI have often wondered why people didn’t smile in pictures taken many years ago. It didn’t really make sense to me, because it seems that most people were happy with their lives. So why not show that they were happy in the pictures that were taken to remember them. Weren’t these pictures were intended to show their descendants who they were and tell a little bit about their lives? I always thought that it was a bit sad that there were so few smiles. And I have wondered why people didn’t tell their kids to smile, but upon further thought, and a look at the picture of my in-laws with all the grandchildren they had at that time, I think maybe I now have a little bit better understanding of it. Maybe it wasn’t totally intended at all, or maybe it was. I suppose we will never know.

I was there when these newer pictures were taken, of course, so I know for sure what was going on. We had taken pictures of several families, and multiple other group shots. We had been through the fidgety kids, the bouts of tears, the laughing at the ones in tears, and we were past nap time for some of these kids. We did our very best to get them to smile for the camera, and most of the time they did pretty good. Nevertheless, by the time we got to this picture, we were pretty much over the picture taking, and no one was doing any smiling. Sometimes there is just simply nothing you can do about a bad picture, except to chalk it up to experience, and move on. You can hope that the next time pictures are taken, everyone will be in a better mood, but quite likely you will find that there will be at least one or two who will feel the same way next time as they did this time.Tired of Posing

Looking back in those old pictures, I thought maybe it wasn’t a matter of collectively deciding not to smile. Maybe they had work to be done on the farm, and they didn’t really want to be there taking pictures. Or maybe they just hated being all dressed up in their Sunday best on a week day, or maybe the kids were fussy and needed a nap, and maybe they were just tired. I mean, after all, everything was a lot harder then. They didn’t have the modern conveniences we have today. Maybe they were just too tired to smile!

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